At first glance, there aren't many obvious parallels between the life of a ski instructor and that of a budding restaurateur.
But Paul Auger begs to differ.
"It's all part of the service industry," said the ski pro and Whistler Blackcomb instructor. "When we're skiing, we're out there for the guests and we're trying to make sure their needs are taken care of. The restaurant industry is exactly the same: You want to have a bit of foresight on what your guests want and need."
Auger has parlayed his career into a second act as the owner-operator of Pemberton's newest haunt, The Station, which enjoyed its soft opening last month.
A long-time resident of the Spud Valley, Auger saw a niche in the local dining scene that he knew he could fill.
"I've been in Pemberton for 17 years, and I felt there was a need for a good family restaurant that is reasonably priced," he said. "Pemberton is mainly comprised of young families that are working hard to make ends meet. We should all be able to go out and enjoy a meal without being gouged."
With the bulk of The Station's menu falling under $20, there's certainly no risk of breaking the bank. The restaurant also serves up what is possibly the best bargain in the Sea to Sky with its classic two-egg, bacon and toast breakfast with bottomless coffee — ringing in at a measly $5.99.
"That's unheard of in these parts," Auger remarked.
The rest of the breakfast menu is the kind of hearty fare you'd expect from your favourite greasy spoon: omelettes, pancakes, a wide selection of bennies, and the gargantuan Hangover Helper, a heaping plate of eggs, smoked bacon, Bratwurst, homemade bannock and hashbrowns topped with onion rings (!!), all smothered in a rich chorizo gravy.
For lunch and dinner, the focus remains on comfort food of the stick-to-your-ribs variety, with a strong penchant for smoke.
"We smoke a lot of our food," Auger noted. "Our brisket is amazing, our Reuben sandwich is incredible. We smoke the brisket here on our patio for 11 hours. Our bacon is smoked. Our pulled pork is smoked."
Among the other highlights of the menu is a roster of two-handed sandwiches, an eight-ounce marinated "cowboy" steak, and the popular pan-seared salmon fillet served with market vegetables and bannock.
The traditional First Nations flatbread also makes an appearance on the dessert list in the form of a maple bannock topped with vanilla ice cream, fresh fruit and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
"We are in Pemberton and we do have quite a few Aboriginal people that work with us. And being so close to Mount Currie, we thought there was a need to showcase a bit of the Aboriginal flair," Auger said of bannock's inclusion on the menu. Being new to the business, Auger is well aware of the alarming (and largely apocryphal) statistic that the vast majority of restaurants fold within the first year. The reality is less dire — two economists countered this bit of conventional wisdom in 2014, finding that only about a fifth of new restaurants close in the first year — but Auger still acknowledges the difficulties that come with running a small business in a town of 2,500.
"The real challenge, I think, is getting the staff to operate the establishment," he said.
But pair Pemberton's rapid growth and The Station's "magical" Portage Road location and stunning patio views with Auger's unflinching commitment to consistency and the restaurant is set up to succeed for years to come.
"Our success will be based on the consistency of our food and our service," he said. "That's, I think, a key factor in the restaurant industry: keep things consistent. If you lose the consistency of it, people will stop coming back because they never know what to expect."
The Station is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit the restaurant's Facebook page.